A scintillating display by raider Pankaj Mohite and defenders Surjeet Singh and Sagar Krishna helped Puneri Paltan finish their home leg with a victory over Bengaluru Bulls by a scoreline of 42-38 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge, Balewadi in Pune on Friday. At the post-match press conference, Puneri Paltan coach Anup Kumar, captain Surjeet Singh and raider Pankaj Mohite took questions for their side, while captain Rohit Kumar and raider Pawan Kumar Sehrawat represented Bengaluru Bulls.
Q. Thoughts on the game?
Anup Kumar: The defence was good today. Every close game that we’ve lost this season has been down to the defence. We keep leaking a point in every raid by the opposition in the closing stages of the match and it’s very difficult to cope with that. Today, Pankaj got us points in offence and the defence too scored well.
Q. Where do you rate Pankaj Mohite among the league’s best?
Anup Kumar: Pankaj’s future is bright. He will make this nation proud and win medals at the international stage. He plays well in every game and makes full use of every chance he gets. Next season, he will be more mature, fitter and even better. He will be among the top raiders next season.
Q. How crucial was this win?
Surjeet Singh: This win was extremely important given that our last game finished in a tie. Capping off the home leg with a victory will give us momentum heading into the final phase of the season.
Q. How do you rate your playoff chances?
Anup Kumar: We need to focus on our remaining matches and win them and then maybe we can depend on results elsewhere and qualify for the playoffs. But before we rely on others, we need to win our games. And if Pankaj and Surjeet play like they have today, I have no doubts we will win all our remaining games.
Q. Thoughts on the defence’s performance?
Pawan Sehrawat: The raiders ended up giving up three Super Tackles when we were on top in the contest. But the defence definitely had a poor outing. As a unit, we seemingly only played to avoid the touch instead of trying to tackle the raiders. It wasn’t the most astute performance.
Q. Thoughts on Surjeet and Sagar Krishna’s performance?
Rohit Kumar: Surjeet is an excellent Cover defender. We had discussed how to avoid getting tackled by him and maybe that hindered our natural game and took away our focus from the other defenders. Sagar Krishna was brilliant today. He was excellent for them in Super Tackle situations.
Q. Thoughts on Pankaj Mohite?
Rohit Kumar: He is a brilliant raider. He played unbelievably well. He scored a huge chunk of their raid points. He has all the skills in the book. An excellent prospect.
Q. What will you focus on the upcoming matches?
Rohit Kumar: We gave away too many Super Tackles and we need to be able to make our advantage count when we have the opposition defence pegged down to three or fewer. That will be an area we will look to work on. The defence as well. We need to be more aggressive as a team and not go for solo tackles.